From Novak Djokovic Accused at Australian Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas’ Toilet Break: Tennis Controversies in 2021

Published 11/24/2021, 6:30 AM EST
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 28: Novak Djokovic of Serbia complains during his Men’s Singles Quarterfinal match against Milos Raonic of Canada on day nine of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The 2021 ATP and WTA season has been amazing, with some brilliant performances from the finest players. However, many controversial incidents also took place. From Novak Djokovic accused of lying about his injury to Stefanos Tsitsipas’ lengthy toilet breaks, this year has been full of dramatic incidents.


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Let’s have a look into all the controversial incidents in detail.


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Novak Djokovic at Australian Open 2021

Once again, Novak Djokovic found himself in the middle of controversies. Firstly, the Serb decided to withdraw from the exhibition match in Adelaide due to injury issues. However, he then returned to the match. Furthermore, World No. 1 then went on to pull out from the ATP Cup 2021.

After two weeks, he returned to his favorite Slam, the Australian Open. Despite pulling out from ATP Cup due to injury, Djokovic showed no sign of any ailment at the ‘Happy Slam’. Novak Djokovic won the tournament quite comfortably, lifting his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open 2021. His quick return raised some questions about the legitimacy of his injury claims.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic receives medical attention during his third round match against Taylor Fritz of the U.S. REUTERS/Kelly Defina

In the same tournament, the World No. 1 complained about the placement of the photographers during a match. In his match against Milos Raonic, Djokovic went to the umpire to raise this issue.

The Serb told the umpire, “Why are the photographers standing behind? It’s not their place, they’re supposed to be out there or on the side.” This incident led to an argument between Djokovic and the chair umpire, however, no further actions were taken on it.

Naomi Osaka withdrew from French Open 2021

For the first time in the history of tennis, a player withdrew from a Grand Slam owing to their mental health. At French Open 2021, the Japanese star, Naomi Osaka pulled out from the competition citing mental health concerns. Osaka’s brave decision created tremendous drama between the former World No. 1 and tennis officials.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 30, 2021 Picture taken May 30, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka reacts during her first round match against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” she posted on her Instagram. Osaka said she had been suffering from depression and anxiety.

Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko’s ugly fight at Wimbledon 2021

The match between Ajla Tomljanovic and Jelena Ostapenko at Wimbledon 2021 took a surprising turn. Despite not showing any signs of injury, the Latvian called a trainer to look into it. This fumed Tomljanovic as she stood up to complain about it. However, her demands were overruled as Ostapenko took the changeover.

The incident didn’t end there. Subsequently, the Australian accused Ostapenko of taking a longer break than expected. She told the umpire, “Why has the clock stopped?” After a long injury break, Jelena returned to the court. However, Tomljanovic dominated the last set and sealed the victory.

Even after the match, the women got into a confrontational verbal exchange. Ostapenko was extremely unhappy with Ajla’s behavior and accused her of being “the worst player on the tour“.

US Open 2021 controversies

This year’s US Open also saw some fuming controversies between tennis players. In the first-round contest, Stefanos Tsitsipas met the three-time Grand Slam champion, Andy Murray. The match witnessed some drama late in the 4th set when the Greek took an eight-minute bathroom break.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 30: Andy Murray of Great Britain serves communicates with his team Stefano Tsitsipas of Greece in the first round of the men’s singles at the US Open 2021 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 30, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

As the clock started ticking, a frustrated Murray went up to the chair umpire and complained about the long break the Greek had taken. In the end, Tsitsipas seized the match against the Brit. However, Murray said he ‘lost respect’ for Tsitsipas after this incident. “It’s just disappointing because I feel it influenced the outcome of the match,” he said in the post-match conference.


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Another incident happened at the US Open, concerning Nick Kyrgios. In his match against Roberto Bautista, the official requested the Australian to put his towel closer to the bins against the wall. To this, Kyrgios responded quite aggressively.

Australian Nick Kyrgios discusses a call with the chair umpire during a match | Credits: TODAY Sports

“Look, the towel situation for me is incredibly stupid. I’m one of the players on Tour that is fully vaccinated. And as of now, I’m getting treated exactly the same as a player that is not vaccinated,” he quoted. However, Kyrgios went on to lose the match in straight sets. The charismatic Australian is never far from the headlines.


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Atri Bhatt

386 articles

Atri Bhatt is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. He is pursuing his Master's degree in Sports Management from Deakin University, Australia. In addition to critically analysing the game, he also plays tennis professionally.